Emotional Connections Lead to Customer Loyalty for Most Patriotic Brands

What better day than today to look at a list of the most Patriotic brands in the U.S.?

According to the 15th annual Brand Keys survey of American brands, believability and authenticity are the keys to emotional customer engagement. The more engaged a consumer is with a particular emotional value and the associated brand, the more likely they’ll trust that emotion and act positively on that belief. Where a brand can establish real emotional connections, the survey notes, consumers are six times more likely to believe and behave positively.

While Jeep, Disney, and Levi Strauss remain on top of the Most Patriotic American brands for 2017, some new names have cropped up and made a significant impression on the patriotic brand leader board. Those new brands include: Fox News, Tesla, MSNBC, and Twitter.

This year’s national sample of 4,860 consumers, 16 to 65 years of age, balanced for political party affiliation, were asked to evaluate which of the 280 brands included in the survey were most resonant when it came to “patriotism.”

Here is a list of the Top 50 Patriotic Brands, according to the 2017 Brand Keys survey:

1. Jeep
2. Levi Strauss
3. Disney
4. Coca-Cola
5. Ford
6. Hershey’s / Twitter
7. Ralph Lauren
8. Jack Daniels
9. Sam Adams
11. Starbucks
12. Harley Davidson
13. Airbnb
14. GE  
15. Fox News
16. McDonald’s
17. Colgate / John Deere
18. Craftsman Tools
19. AT&T / Coach
20. Gatorade
21. Walmart
22. American Express
23. Tesla
24. KFC / Marlboro
25. L.L. Bean
26. Coors
27. Kellogg’s
28. Instagram
29. 49ers/Converse /Cowboys/Louisville Slugger /NFL/New Balance/Nike/Patriots MLB/NY Yankees/Wrangler/Wilson Sporting Goods
30. Apple /Amazon/ Facebook / Google

Politics has impacted this list this year stronger than ever before when it comes to how consumers look at brands through a patriotic lens.

“It has dramatically shifted the four key drivers of the perception of patriotism,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys. “For example, the driver that was once ‘Pride’ has moved closer to ‘Self-importance.’ The ‘Inclusion’ driver has shifted to ‘Marginalization.’ ‘Courage’ has morphed into ‘Convenience,’ and ‘Freedom’ has actually become the vice of ‘Extremism.’ Holidays like Independence Day give marketers an opportunity to champion emotional values, some political, but until now, mostly category-based. Typically, 4th of July brand advertising and social outreach would feature patriotic flag-waving and red-white-and-blue motifs, but a good deal of what used to be forthright marketing has become politicized, with some brands wrapping themselves more tightly in the flag.”

Anti-Trump groups have urged consumers to boycott companies and brands seen to back the President, while Trump partisans have created their own lists of preferred and objectionable companies, brands, and CEOs, the survey says.

“Whether you’re politically left, right, or center,” said Passikoff, “what’s clear is that these consumer attitudinal shifts come with a set of newly re-written rules of branding, expressed every day via news programs and social networks like the President’s favorite, Twitter, and Millennials’ Instagram.”

Passikoff noted that the brand rankings don’t mean that other brands are not patriotic, or that they don’t possess patriotic resonance or intention.

“Rational aspects, like being an American company, or ‘Made in the USA,’ or having nationally directed CSR activities and sponsorships, all play a part in the personality of any brand,” Passikoff added. “But if you’re a brand that wants to differentiate and engage via emotional values, if there is believability, good marketing just gets better. In most cases, six times better. One thing marketers need to learn about 21st Century brands is that the ones that can make a meaningful emotional connection with consumers always have a strategic advantage over competitors when it comes to the battle for the hearts, minds, and loyalty of consumers.” 

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